Monday, October 02, 2006

New Beginning 133

For some time now, John Burrows had been living a fairly normal life. He had rather come to enjoy the idea. Other people went on adventures and had strange, exciting things happen to them, but not John Burrows. If John Burrows wanted adventure, he could read about it in a book or watch it in a movie. And really, he thought, he was perfectly fine with that. Adventures weren't exactly his cup of tea.

Which meant, of course, that John Burrows, like it or not, would soon be having an adventure.

But enough with the foreshadowing. In order to realize just how truly fantastic things were about to become, it is important to see just how truly mundane things were before.

John Burrows was middle class, middle aged, and of average appearance. The only thing that had really changed since his childhood was this: he had not always been middle aged. In fact only a few years ago he had been not middle-aged, but almost middle-aged. Before that he might have been called young, but that was probably assuming too much, and John Burrows was too careful a person to assume anything like that.

But enough with the backstory. In order to realize just how average things had been, it is important to see how truly exciting things were about to become.

What John Burrows, our middle-class, middle-aged man did not know that morning, was that his compelling chronicle was about to commence.

But enough with the alliteration.

Opening: mrd.....Continuation: Judy Gregerson/McKoala


writtenwyrdd said...

Great continuation!

This was interesting, and I would have read on further. But I would caution the author that it might be offputting to the reader if you continued on in this manner for too long. I presume this is going to be a comedy?

word veri: ehnut, what one says when one's mouth is crammed too full of food.

Anonymous said...

Nothing says "Keep Reading" like the anticipation of a definitive narration on "mundane": life was so average and boring I must tell you about it in excruciating detail. Yummy stuff...

wv: kprrk - what I feel like having said what I said

Anonymous said...

To me, this beginning sounds like it's written for children, except, of course, that it's unlikely to find a middle-aged protag in a children's book.

Anonymous said...

The continuation really nailed the windy tone of the narrative. I agree that this sounds like something written for children, sort of like a fairy tale. I'm not sure who exactly is narrating either, but with the foreshadowing it's can't be John.

I wouldn't read much farther than the 150 words if that keeps up.

Anonymous said...

...and then all these dwarves show up.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to get anything said in 150 words, and this author managed not to. -JTC

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

Twenty years ago in my undergraduate creative writing class, we were told not to run on and on with descriptions of someone as "average," "ordinary," "typical," or "middle-whatever."

Good advice then, and good advice now.

What is average? What is normal, ordinary, or typical? I bet it's not the same for you as for me. I bet it's not what the Indian IT contractor in the cube down the hall thinks is normal. And I bet it's not the same average as what the guy with the leaf-blower outside my window is used to.

In this case, everything after the first paragraph can be scrapped. It's boring, just like John. There's no need to belabor the point.

Trust your reader! I quite liked the first paragraph and was ready to read on and find out just what was about to disrupt John's peaceful little existence.

You piqued my curiosity.

And then you lost it.

No need to beat your reader over the head with mundanity. Send a rock (or a guided missle) through this poor, dull guy's window, and let's get rocking!

writtenwyrdd said...

Actually, this reminded me a bit of Robert Rankin.

HawkOwl said...

This was fun, except that it sounds a lot like The Hobbit, minus the actual hobbit. I hope it starts getting more unique soon. And not with John Burrows waking up as a giant bug, either.

Leah said...

I thought it was pretty funny. Obviously something would need to get my interest soon, but I like the tongue-in-cheek voice.

If I saw this in a library or a bookstore, I would keep reading.

Anonymous said...

This book should be titled "Mundane: The John Burrows Story."

By the end of the first paragraph I was sick of reading the words "John Burrows." And I think telling the reader how dull the man is, is a sure way to make them stop reading.

Mazement said...

I don't think it necessarily reads like a children's could be a fairy-tale-for-adults thing. I could see Terry Pratchett using something like this as an opening.

That said, I've never liked the rule that the protagonist of a children's book can only be a couple of years older than the target audience. If I had children, they'd read books with middle-aged protagonists every once in a while. And if they didn't enjoy them then they'd be punished.

Beth said...

To nmpsf--yes! That's exactly what I was thinking. Dwarves and a gray-robed wizard.


But enough with the foreshadowing. In order to realize just how truly fantastic things were about to become, it is important to see just how truly mundane things were before.

Here's where you lost me. My curiosity died. Who wants to read about mundane, particularly after being told it's going to be mundane?

Anonymous said...

Fabulous continuation. Great wit.

Author, I enjoyed the beginning, but you're trying a bit too hard. I suggest you make some cuts, it will strengthen the opening (remember less is sometimes more).

First delete the second sentence. You really don't need it, since the last sentence in the paragraph says it better.

I also suggest you delete the third paragraph altogether. Or at least the sentence about foreshadowing.

Good luck.

merper said...

This seems vaguely reminescent of Douglas Adams, perhaps even too much so. Still, I would definitely keep reading.

It might be targeted at children, or it might be age neutral comedy.

Anonymous said...

LOL at the continuation and EE's brilliant editing that combined the two.

I liked the opening until I got to the 3rd paragraph. Then I wanted to toss the thing in the fire (but since I'm reading it on my computer that would not be a good idea).

Good luck.

Tribal Elder said...

I can't get past thinking this is a Hobbit rip off. Sorry, I just keep waiting for Bilbo.

Anonymous said...

This reminded me a lot of the way J. K. Rowling started the first Harry Potter book (but then, she did - ah - mirror The Lord of the Rings, so the hobbit comments make sense to me also). Thus, I thought this was aimed at children too.

I was smiling through it all, however. I'd keep reading this, as I thought it looked to be an amusing story and the author had certainly captured my interest.

However, I'm with Beth, in that when I read this line:
(I)t is important to see just how truly mundane things were before
I immediately thought, "Oh! Oh! Argh! No! Not backstory! No!"

The first sentence told us John is bland. We really don't need more detail than that, although I do admit that the line about him not always having been middle-aged was pretty funny. I'd suggest jumping right into the action without detailing how dull John's life was.

PJD said...

I thought it was The Hobbit as written by Lemony Snicket. But then, I've read The Hobbit but only seen the Lemony Snicket movie, not read the books. So I might have that wrong.

A big "me too!" on the comments about mundane and the brilliance of the continuation. Beyond that...

What I did like about this was that it was easy to read. While I thought it was a little full of itself, I liked that too, and it spoke of a strong narrative voice that could have a dry, rewarding wit throughout. As long as the story is good. I think you could tighten this up; first paragraph is a bit redundant.

I think I would read on, though, simply because it's so easy to read. Not like some of the super-dense prose we sometimes see here that requires the concentration and vocabulary required to solve a Sunday Times crossword puzzle. Essentially, you're promising an easy jaunt through a fun story, and I'd read a couple chapters before giving up.

Mostly because I trust that when you tell me I'm going to read about a mundane life, you're going to make it an interesting mundane life.

verification word: pwqxey
What I hope John Burrows' girlfriend uses as her pet name for him.

Anonymous said...

I kinda liked it. I'd read on if you shortened it up a bit. Like:
For some time now, John Burrows had been living a fairly normal life. He knew that other people went on adventures and had strange, exciting things happen to them while he preferred to read about them in a book or watch it in a movie. And he was perfectly fine with that. Adventures weren't his cup of tea. Which meant, of course, that John Burrows would soon be having an adventure.

And then start with the adventure. Let the backstory come out later. Let his boring life show when the exciting things happen and John is unwilling to go for them b/c he enjoys his boring life so much, etc. Maybe start his day (not in a waking up scene) in its normal boring way and then BLAM zombies show up at his work and a vampire tries to suck his blood and he's the only one with the A- type to kill the race that is trying to destroy the world. You get the point. Good luck.